Opposition Member of Parliament for Oropouche West Dave Tancoo is condemning the Government for what he terms its “rank and shameful geographic discrimination and abuse” towards residents of South Trinidad by failing to provide the minimum required upkeep of waterways and flood prevention infrastructure.
According to MP Tancoo, this discrimination and bastardization is the main reason for the flooding that capitulated his and other neighbouring constituencies during the past week.
MP Tancoo was on-site at the 14-gate location in Woodland, showing the sad reality that residents continue to face, in stark contrast to what he said the Government claims. Tancoo stated that, “when the gates should have been opened during low tide to facilitate water coming off Woodland and surrounding areas, the gates were closed. What was required to happen and what ended up happening is that concerned residents of Woodland had to leave their (already) flooded homes and come to this site to manually open those flood gates.”
According to MP Tancoo, the reason for this is because there was no electrical supply to the site, to allow for the automated manipulation of the gates, which he said that the Minister of Works and Transport boasted about in Parliament that, “at the touch of a button the flood gates would open therefore allowing the continuous flow of water outside.” However, due to an unchecked malfunctioning electrical breaker circuit, the water from three main rivers backed up for several miles, creating an unnatural dam, causing extensive flooding to Woodland, Penal and surrounding areas.
The damage was not only limited to residents’ homes but livestock and poultry farms were also severely affected. A news story highlighted one poultry farmer lost approximately three thousand mature birds, while MP Tancoo said he witnessed cattle up to their necks in flood water with nowhere to go.
Further, Tancoo asserts that the lack of maintenance of watercourses by the Ministry of Works and Transport was another evident cause of the rampant flooding. In April this year, Works & Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan gave an assurance in Parliament that work was being done to clear the New Cut channel, however, that waterway and the Black River both breached their banks, flooding surrounding areas.
The Oropouche West MP said that the Government’s failure to provide the necessary infrastructural works was another contributor to the flooding, as the ‘Bushmaster’ lay idle in a Woodland tributary for several months, and as a result, the necessary preventative works were never accomplished.
Additionally, MP Tancoo spoke to the lack of funding to Local Government bodies, an issue that was previously highlighted by both himself and Local Government representatives from the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC) and Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC). As a result of this starvation of funds by the Rowley-led Government, the PDRC could not even afford to purchase fuel to operate equipment for performing maintenance works, while at the SRC more than half of the equipment & machinery remains inoperable thus preventing the Corporation from cleaning the smaller watercourses under their purview.
Sadly, as we go further into the rainy season, these problems will not go away because of the continued negligence and geographic discrimination by this Government, leading to more suffering and loss to our citizens.
MP Tancoo however cautions the Government that the country will no longer stand for PNM excuses, blame game and continuous failure; this will be evident come August 14th, 2023 when the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago take a stand and put country first.